This book came from Scotland, or at least "over the pond" as they say, as my godmother brought this back for me on one of her trips over seas. This book does have a note written on the first title page from her, so I hope you don't mind. The book was alright, wasn't my fav but it was alright. Here's what it says on the back to give you a better insight into it all:
After a mild autumn, December of 1142 brings a smothering, silent blanket of snow. Thus it comes about that the guest hall of the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul is damaged, and the brothers must repair its roof before the danger worsens.
The treacerously icy conditions are to prove near-fatal for Brother Haluin. He slips from the roof in a terrible fall, sustaining such grave injuries that he makes his deathbed confession to the Abbot and Brother Cadfael. A startling story of trespasses hard for God or man to forgive emerges. But Haluin does not die. On his recovery, he sets out on a journey of expiation, with Cadfael as his sole companion. An arduous trip, it leads to some shocking discoveries, and to murder.....
Andrew Greeley said "Pure pleasure. Peter's stories can be said to have everything ... colorful monks, touching young love, marvelous atmosphere, a fascinating and complex detective, and ingenious puzzles."
And this particular one has it all. If you like historical fiction combined with mysteries, you can't want for more with the Brother Cadael series. It's great!
What can I say -- Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael is probably still the best historical mystery series around. This is the fifteenth in the series set in the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, in Shrewsbury. The year is 1142. A surprising journey ensues after Brother Haluin falls of the roof and is expected to die. He does not, and Cadfael is right there to share in the journey of expiation Haluin feels he must make to pay for his earlier transgressions and beg earthly forgiveness.
As usual, the cadfael series is very good. This one has some pretty serious adult issues in it, so for the first time I didn't let my 10 yr old read it. Yes, she reads murder mysteries, but no, I don't go so far as the storyline in this particular book.
Brother Haluin confesses on what he supposes to be his deathbed, recovers, and decides to pursue restitution for his earlier sins. This sets into motion a complex series of events, a beautifully woven chain of cause and effect. I am amazed at how Peters keeps these things straight! One mystery after another comes to the attention of the characters (and readers) and eventually Cadfael connects the dots. He does so nearly accidentally- as often as Cadfael saves the day, it never feels like canned writing or a formula. Deeply humane writing!
This time Cadfael leaves Wales behind and heads East toward Hales and Elford in the company of a lame Benedictine Brother Haluin. Together they hobble (literally as well as figuratively) through a decades old mystery only to encounter the book's only murder well toward the end. While the exact identity of that killer is never unmasked, the mystery that engenders it is finally resolved leaving the reader with a satisfying journey through mid 12th century England and warm feeling for the comfort and security the people of that time had for an all-knowing and benevolent God.
This is a wonderful addition to the Cadfael Saga and I highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction with just a leavening of mystery thrown in.
*** Potential Spoiler Alert ***
I note that another reviewer felt that this installment dealt with themes too mature for younger readers. At the risk of revealing too much there is a confession of pre-marital sex and also an attraction between two children who are thought to be first cousins. How protective parents can have no problem with their children reading about murders but shrink from any idea of sex outside marriage will forever puzzle me.
Once again Ellis Peters takes us to early England and gives us a look into monastery life. This is another excellent foray into the world of Cadfael; Crusader and ship's captain turned Benadictine monk. As an herbalist, healer, gardener and detective, using observation, deduction (and the early roots of forensic science) he untangles the threads of murder, deception and the occasional conspiracy. In this addition to the Cadfael collection, he accompanies Brother Haluin on a journey of absolution for a long ago wrong. But, as always, situations are not as simple as they seem...